weekly grocery budget Archives

Grocery Shopping This Week: Lotsa Free Stuff

This was a Catalina week, which means my grocery shopping looks, well, weird. In fact, my husband  sort of mentioned that we hardly have food in the house. Except for that huge pile of stuff on the table there, most of which is headed for the basement pantry.
Well, when I get done scooping up free and almost-free food in this Catalina deal, THEN I'll have time to buy some regular groceries.

Here's what I bought with my $100 grocery budget this week:

$39 on eight rounds of the ConAgra Catalina deal at Jewel. Why so much, when most of the transactions I did cost less than $3 after Catalina and coupons, or actually made money? Well, there were a few transactions I was nervous about, and did not want to risk losing my Catalina coupon, so I paid cash. I've got $25 in Catalina coupons sitting in my coupon file for future shopping.

(I'll post a summary of everything I bought in this deal when I'm done shopping it tomorrow.)

$3.60 on other groceries at Jewel (pack of hot dog buns, 1 banana, some other little thing)

$3 at CVS on two gallons of milk, 2 cannisters Quaker Quick Oats, and various freebies. (total would have been higher but I both used and earned Extra Bucks there. For my budget, I count the cash I spend only.)

$32, as usual, for our CSA box of produce.

So I spent $78 of my available $100 budget. $22 goes to the "2010 buy a cow" fund, bringing that total up to $117.

What our family of 5 ate on our $100 budget this week:

Wednesday - got Popeyes with my parents
Thursday - lunch - leftover Popeyes, dinner = liver and onions, squash
Friday - ordered pizza
Saturday - dinner = homemade split pea soup with ham hocks, daikon, carrots and leeks; homemade bread
Sunday - breakfast = french toast and fruit, lunch = leftover soup and bread, dinner = homemade beet soup with ham hocks and carrots, homemade squash bread
Monday - breakfast = oatmeal with fruit, cheese, lunch = grapes, leftover soup, granola with yogurt, dinner = frozen wild salmon, whipped organic potatoes, organic broccoli with cheese sauce
Tuesday - breakfast = cereal and pears, lunch = leftover soup, inner = hot dogs with whole wheat buns, whipped organic potatoes, organic squash

This Week's Shopping: Catalina Fun and a Wedding



This week there wasn't much time to shop on account of my brother getting married. OK, I made multiple trips to all kinds of stores, but those were errands that I ran for the wedding and don't count.

Here's what I did for our family:

Spent 35 cents at Dominick's getting Barilla pasta, sauce and cheese. How so cheap? I used a $10 Catalina I had in my wallet -- without that my total would have been $10.35 for four jars sauce, four boxes of spaghetti, two blocks cheese and one jar O Organics baby food. The deal was "buy 2 pasta, get 2 sauce free," and the $1/1 coupons didn't work because they were for the wrong variety of pasta, but not a bad deal anyway. Oh! Also I forgot to report that I got a $1 Catalina coupon for buying Barilla products -- not sure how many I would have had to buy to trigger that, but if you count that and the $1.25/2 sauce coupon I used, I paid $5.75 for 4 sauce and 4 pasta -- not bad!

At Dominick's I also found more "Save $70" coupon booklets, with that $.50/1 any Healthy Choice coupon so useful in the Catalina deal at Jewel-Osco.

At Jewel I have done 2 rounds of the current Catalina deal. The first time I spent $5.92 on 9 cans of Healthy Choice soup ($.88/can x 9 = $7.92 - $2 in coupons = $5.92). The second time I got 9 cans soup with no coupons and some grapes. I paid with the $10 Cat from before, and I only owed the tax -- 23 cents. (And of course I received a $10 Catalina coupon for each of those transactions.)

At CVS, I spent 35 cents after Extra Bucks on some milk and a can of cream of mushroom soup.

So, my grocery spending for this week was $6.85, plus my normal $32 for the organic produce box. I donated 9 cans of soup to the Girl Scouts food drive and shared some of our produce with the babysitter, since we were going out of town and couldn't eat it all. $38.65 out of a possible $100. No wonder we hardly have anything to eat around here!

I won't detail our meals, since we ate most of them out of town, at parties and restaurants. But I am happy to report that I can add $60 to the "buy a cow 2010" fund, bringing my savings up to $95.

This Week's $100 Shopping: Stayed Well Under Budget, Saved for the Next Cow

Naturally the week after I increased my weekly grocery budget to $100 from $80, I only spent $65.70 on groceries, making it seem like the change was not at all necessary. But this is a great thing, because it allows me to start saving for the bulk beef purchase we'll make this fall.

I spent:

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New Grocery Shopping Budget and My Frugal Grocery Shopping This Week

I've been lax about reporting my grocery spending over the summer, but now that it's the first day of fall, I suppose it's time to put the house in order. I have had a hard time sticking to the $80 per month budget while buying the weekly organic produce box and trying to pay off the two humanely-raised meat purchases we made last year. In fact, I just couldn't do it.

This year, we are planning on buying a portion of a beef and a pig again -- although our beef portion will be smaller -- and I'm still getting the organic produce box. So I'm changing my weekly shopping budget to a more realistic $100 a week.

This will include household goods that you buy at drugstores and grocery stoers -- diapers, cleaning products, toothpaste (as if we ever pay for that).

This week I spent $77: $12.18 at Dominick's, $17.30 at Jewel-Osco, $11 at Dunkin Donuts (on whole bean coffee), $4 at CVS (milk, lipstick, mainly just rolling ECBs) and my usual $32 on the organic produce box. 

Next week I'll resume cataloging the meals we make with our $100 weekly spending. This week, I'd just like to point out some bargain shopping priciples illustrated in the week's shop.



That seltzer water? Got those for $1.79 each with a rain check, and although the rain check was for five cases, the cashier let me buy 2 and just amend the raincheck so I could get the remaining 3 later.

30 pounds of white flour: Well, baking seasons's a-coming, especially with all those apples we got this weekend! (I didn't count in my shopping budget the $40 we spent on entrance to the apple picking place since that was basically entertainment.) The 5 lb. bags of flour were part of the "buy 6, get them for 99 cents each" sale at Jewel, and I didn't want any of the other stuff like cake mix or frosting right now. 20 cents a pound is the cheapest I've ever bought white flour, you?

The organic olive oil is still on sale for $3.99, regular price $10.49. Trader Joe's sells this size (17 oz) normally for $3.50, but not organic. Course, I really don't know how the quality compares or if this is a good thing to buy organic, but for $3.99, what the heck?

Campbell's tomato soup at 39 cents, minus two $.50/2 coupons = 11 cents a can. You won't normally do better than that, except right now -- because you can print and use the $1.50/3 "Great for Cooking" soups, which I didn't have handy today. Yep, you'll make money on tomato soup or get it free.

Baking soda is an all-around frugal thing to have around -- deodorizer, ingredient of homemade cleaning fluid, volcano-maker. It's one of those things you don't see deep discounts on, so even though the store brand was only marked down a dime, I grabbed one. I'm wondering: Does Costco, etc., sell the stuff in bulk?

Pearled barley: another item with tiny sale markdowns but it's a good frugal buy -- more nutritious than brown rice.

Split peas: ditto -- small markdown, but a cheap, good meal ingredient.

Elsewhere this week, I discovered that Dunkin' Donuts can be a good place to buy whole bean coffee. If you get those little booklets of coupons in the mail, look for a coupon for two pounds of coffee for $10.99. Now notice that 12 oz. of DD brand coffee is "on sale" at CVS for $6.99. Most of the time I don't see whole bean coffee in stores for less than $5.99/12 oz. bag. (Sometimes you'll get 8 O'Clock brand for $4 with a coupon, or a really good coupon deal on Starbucks coffee, but usually, no.) In case math is not your strong suit, here's how this compares: Two 16 oz. bags for $10.99 = $5.50 per bag or 34 cents an ounce. The CVS price is 58 cents an ounce.

Do you have basic frugal grocery shopping principles like this? Staple inexpensive, healthy ingredients, or surprising places to get an item cheap? Please share.

The Frugalista Challenge: Reduce Your Grocery Bill by 20%


Wrapping up this week's Frugalista Challenge, getting grocery spending under control, here is a list of my best tips, a chance for you to share your advice, and a weekend gift card giveaway.

I get a lot of casual questions from friends along the lines of, "I know I should read your site, because I'm spending a crazy amount of money on groceries. But ..."

There are a lot of reasons that follow that "but." I have a but of my own, though. (And it's a nice one. Hahahahahahah.)

I respond, "But, no matter what your situation, I am pretty sure that if you really want to or need to, you could cut 20% off your weekly grocery budget."

Here are my steps for how to do that, and then, oh you know it, we will open the audience participation segment of our show with a weekend giveaway.

The giveaway will be for two more grocery gift cards. Don't you love it?

(Can you tell I caved and brewed an afternoon pot of coffee?)

First, my 10 tips. Then, you leave a comment with a pledge of how you will cut 20% -- or whatever % you think is reasonable -- from your weekly grocery budget. Then, on Monday at 5 p.m., I'll choose two winners from those comments to win $25 Aldi gift cards.


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Our $80 Grocery Spending: Stayed Close to Budget

I have pretty much taken the summer off from reporting my grocery spending here. I know. You've been like rudderless boats lost on a choppy sea without it.

Actually, I got not one single complaint. But I like reporting my spending; it keeps me honest. So here goes:

I spent $86 this week, pretty darn close to my $80 grocery budget. Here's where it went:

Whole Foods: $11 on cage-free eggs, whole-wheat flour and organic champagn grapes

CVS: $5.52 cents on Dulcolax (giving it to my grandma and building my ECB bankroll) 

Dominick's: $35 on three trips that netted all kinds of goodies like two rounds of the Nature Valley granola bars Catalina deal. (What's a Catalina? See my Catalina intro.) I earned $6 worth of Catalina coupons to use in the future. Oh, and that tequila that I bought with a coupon. 

Jewel-Osco: $2.88 for a cantaloupe and pretzels

Plus of course our usual $32 worth of produce from the CSA.

What we ate on that

Wednesday: beef tongue tacos with organic tomato and onion salsa and organic green peppers

Thursday: can't remember

Friday: lunched on organic green peppers with Nature Valley Nut Clusters and other cereal at the pool; for dinner ordered Domino's Pizza (also served as breakfast). souped it up with organic eggplant, organic tomato and conventional mushrooms

Saturday: whole wheat pasta with organic zucchini, Italian sausage and jar sauce

Sunday: BLTs for lunch, then ate out on a Groupon for dinner.

Monday: kale with broth over whole wheat toast with a fried egg on top

Tuesday: whole wheat waffles with peaches for breakfast, McDonald's for lunch, then dinner was bratwurst and buns from the freezer, mashed potatoes and salad with lettuce, tomatoes and squash, all organic

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